Skip to content

Speaking up to make things right

It seems more and more we’re taking action on behalf of a cause, in opposition to an event, as a way to make a statement, or to address a grievence. Is it because there’s more things to get upset about, our expectations are greater, or because we have the ability to complain? Probably all of the above.

Many of my business traveler readers from have commiserated about airline service or the lack of it. We often move away from one airline to another to punish a wrong. I’ve been vocal about avoiding Southwest for canceled flights and otherwise poor service. Others have complained about American, United and Delta. It makes us feel good to speak with our feet and walk away from a company that treated us badly. And it’s natural to let them know. We want to do business with companies that treat us well and respect us. Unfortunately too few do.

It’s also something important to do. While our efforts may often be in vain, we feel better because we’ve acted on principal. And possibly just one of the complaints will be enough to make an impact.

A cause for me this past week was to move all my prescriptions away from Walgreens because of their decision not to dispense abortion pills, even in some states where abortions are legal. I felt Walgreens was chosing sides and were putting the health of their customers at risk in order to comply with threats from right wing politicians.

As reported by Politico,

The nation’s second-largest pharmacy chain confirmed Thursday that it will not dispense abortion pills in several states where they remain legal — acting out of an abundance of caution amid a shifting policy landscape, threats from state officials and pressure from anti-abortion activists.

Nearly two dozen Republican state attorneys general wrote to Walgreens in February, threatening legal action if the company began distributing the drugs, which have become the nation’s most popular method for ending a pregnancy.

The company told POLITICO that it has since responded to all the officials, assuring them that they will not dispense abortion pills either by mail or at their brick-and-mortar locations in those states.

The list includes several states where abortion in general, and the medications specifically, remain legal — including Alaska, Iowa, Kansas and Montana. For example, Kansas’ law that patients only obtain the pills directly from a physician is blocked in court.

I wrote emails to their CEO and customer support officials, but never received a reply. But along with the many thousands, I’m sure our protests registered, not only at Walgreens, but by the other large pharmacy chains, who have, so far, not followed Walgreen’s lead. And then I voted with my money. I moved by prescriptions to the Amazon Pharmacy. It was quick, simple and painless, like most things with Amazon. And I’m saving morney as a benefit.

The internet enables us to make our views known. A complaint often gets attention as does contacting a company’s executives using email. Addresses are usually easy to find with a bit of searching. While Walgreen’s executives failed to reply, I’ve found most company executives do. A no reply speaks volumes about the company.

The key to complaining is to do it politely and briefly, explaining the issue and describing your relationship to the company. What I’ve learned is not to take the issue personally or let it eat away. So many decisions are based on rules corporations have created and then dispense with using a computer or customer agent with little authority to do much on their own. That’s why I’ve found going as high as possible in an organization is usually more effective.

While I’m no longer on Twitter, I had found that to be a good platform for complaining. Companies usually have an account and monitor complaints when they’re tagged publicly.

Six months ago I had to deal with Verizon for charging me for DisneyPlus that came as a free benefit and then autorenewed once the benefit expired, even though I never used it (or even remeber getting it). I was able to escalate it to a corporate office dealing with escalated and got the issue resolved. I got half the payments back and $20/month reduction off my ongoing bills. I also got an agreement to be able to call back this person whenever I had an issue, bypassing the normal route.

Some efforts did not go as well. When Amex cancelled my Platinum card for a fraudulent charge while on my way to Rome a few years ago, they couldn’t figure out how to get me a replacement card during my two week trip. When I got back I asked for an adjustment, being a 20-year Platinum member, towards the $700 renewal fee. They were adament about no breaks (and no apology). I left them for Chase Sapphire and have been very satisfied. Ironically, for years now I continue to get offers from Amex almost weekly about coming back. Not a chance.

Efforts with Southwest resulted in some flight credits after writing a complaint from their website, not enough to get me back as a regular customer again.

While there are many companies we can take issue with, three are at the top of my list for how well they handle issues that go wrong. goes out of the way to satisfy. Returns are easy, and when I ordered a Panasonic Microwave that had a broken tray, and Panasonic didn’t respond, Costco shipped me a replacement part in two days, buying it off Amazon on my behalf.

Amazon makes it easy to make returns and deal with missed deliveries. Removes all risk when buying something sight unseen. Lastly, Chase for banking has been amazing. Always easy to reach an intelligent customer agent who has a broad knowledge of their products, services, and especially their outstanding app and website that lets you do everything with a few key clicks.

Customer service seperates the mediocre, penny-pinching companies from those that excel in providing customer care and providing the respect we expect. Let’s all vote with our pocketbooks and let the companies that fail know and tell others.